History of film in Nottingham
Nottingham has been the home to a wealth of interesting history going back hundreds of years, including Charles I raising his standard starting the English civil war in 1642, fascinating caves dating across the centuries, and of course our own Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham’s escapades; we have a heritage that is known across the globe. Despite the modern day lack of aforementioned events (although we do still have a Sheriff of Nottingham and over 550 caves) we continue to build upon this rich heritage through the creativity of the city which includes a strong film sector.
Kickstarted in 1975 through the development of the New Cinema Workshop, a local film cooperative made up of group of local people with a vision for the shared accessibility of filmmaking, from script to exhibition, Nottingham’s film heritage has been a story of inspiration, hard work and community spirit. With the support of the Midlands Group, which was one of the UK’s first multi-media arts centres based in Hockley in Nottingham City Centre, the Workshop was set up to provide film training opportunities such as the Headstart course, enabling aspiring filmmakers to flex their filmmaking muscles and supported new talent to develop including as Chris Cooke, writer and director of the 2003 feature One for the Road. Through the uniting of the New Cinema Workshop and the Nottingham Video Project, Intermedia was born, with it's base at the city's Broadway Cinema, which became the heart of Nottingham film talent, supporting local people with technical, aesthetic and content training. With the birth of EM Media in 2002 as the regions local film board and funder, filmmaking in the region hit an all-time high supporting many shorts and features, many of whom are listed below. EM Media subsequently transferred assets to Creative England as the national film board took form which has since worked to develop local film friendly partnerships across the country, including with Nottingham City Council who is a key partner in the Nottingham Screen Partnership.
From Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, filmed in Nottingham in 1960 and based on the book of the same name by Nottingham writer Alan Sillitoe, through to scenes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1, Nottingham has been the scene for many a distinguished film project. In recent years we have seen many feature projects choose Nottingham locations and talent for their productions. Films such as Control (directed by Anton Corbijn), Oranges and Sunshine (telling the story of Nottingham social worker Margaret Humphreys as she uncovers and brings to account the British government’s immigration of children to Australia) , The Unloved (directed by Nottingham’s own Samantha Morton), Bronson (starring Tom Hardy and filmed mainly on location in and around Nottinghamshire), This is England (written and directed by our very own Shane Meadows), Weekend (filmed across many classic Nottingham locations such as our train station and iconic Lenton Flats), The Magicians (starring comedians Mitchell and Webb and using our Theatre Royal as a key location), Bunny and the Bull (starring actors such as Edward Hogg, Richard Ayoade and Noel Fielding), A Room for Romeo Brass (another gem from Shane), Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (Shane again!) and the recent production Adrift in Soho. Directed by Latin-American filmmaker Pablo Behrens and filmed nearly completely in Nottingham other than a few establishing Soho shots, this recent edition to Nottingham’s film heritage is due for theatrical release in Spring 2015.
We’ve even seen productions such as documentary film Britney Spears: Unbreakable use locations like the old Carlton TV studios on Lenton Lane and many a sports documentary or TV coverage at one of the city’s many world class sporting facilities such as the National Ice Centre, Nottingham Forest and Notts County football clubs, The Tennis Centre, Holme Pierrepont National Water Sports Centre and Trent Bridge Cricket Club. And then of course there’s The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in the recent Batman trilogy, thanks to which Nottingham was firmly placed as a film friendly location and our Wollaton Hall’s alter-ego will forever be Wayne Manor.
Alongside feature films, Nottingham has also seen a number of TV productions choose locations in our fair city. From Eastenders to Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Boon to Peak Practice, The Upper Hand to Embarrassing Bodies, Supersize v’s Superskinny to Antiques Roadshow. Even within the last 2 years we have hosted productions such as Truckers, the 2013 BBC One prime time comedy drama starring Stephen Tompkinson, Harry Treadaway, John Dagleish and Ashley Walters, which was set and filmed in Nottingham, and the yet-to-be-released ITV prime time series Skate Estate, devised and hosted by Nottingham’s own Torvill and Dean.
So as you can see we’re a pretty popular filming city and a Nottingham-made film night would be pretty interesting!
On a local level this city is home to a wealth of incredibly talented producers, directors, writers, actors and crew which demonstrates that Nottingham is a significant hot spot for new film talent. Local productions include many fantastic short films such as Serious Swimmers (Directed by Andy Taylor Smith and starring Kerrie Hayes of Channel 4’s The Mill fame), Stereotype (directed by young rising director star, Jordan McGibney), Castle Boulevard (feature by local independent production company Coalescent Films) and a new futuristic Robin Hood TV series that is currently in development and if I tell you…well let’s just say that it shall remain confidential for now.
These days Nottingham is home to some fantastic film production companies such as Wellington Films and Spool Films. Based at Broadway Cinema, Wellington produce some incredible documentary and fictional features and shorts such as A Man’s Story, the documentary about Ozwald Boateng and featuring, other than the man himself, Giorgio Armani, Michael Bay, Paul Bettany, Richard Branson, Gabriel Byrne, Don Cheadle, Jamie Foxx…need I go on? Then there’s also Spool Films, a talented production company based at the city’s Antenna building and hosting one of only a few Dolby approved post houses in the UK, which has provided post production for a range of productions such as feature films like Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger, short films such as Serious Swimmers and promo videos such as Home of Champions, promoting East Midlands Olympic hopefuls in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games.
We in Nottingham are proud of our film heritage and look to continue this history as we work to support the local, national and international film industry. Working as a partner with Creative England, the Nottingham Screen Partnership consists of organisations across the city who have come together to establish this unique partnership resource for film. At this point I should mention that this list given here is most definitely not exhaustive and just a simple Google search will reveal further Nottingham treasures! As a partnership we are currently working on some very exciting projects across the film industry as a sector which we will update you on as we progress so to summarise, I advise you to watch this space!...